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Farming Without Soil


     Close your eyes and imagine what a farm looks like. In your mind’s eye you probably see rows of plants in a field, a tractor with muddy tires and bunches of fresh produce. What if it was possible for a farm to produce tons and tons of food, but had no dirt at all?

Hydroponic farms are environments where plants can grow without soil. Instead, plants’ roots are partially submerged in water that has a special mix of minerals in it. No dirt required! This may seem like a funny way to grow plants, but hydroponic farming provides many benefits.Farming can be a very messy business.Farmers rely on manure to fertilize their fields.

Manure is a combination of plant materials like hay mixed with animals’feces. When the manure breaks down, it provides rich nutrition to plants, but it can also spread bacteria that can cause food-borne illness. (That’s why it is so important to wash fruits and vegetables.) Hydroponic farms do not require manure. Instead, an irrigation system circulates water and nutrients directly to plants’ roots.

Traditional farming sometimes requires putting chemicals on plants to keep insects away that can destroy the plants. These chemicals are called pesticides. Some people do not eat foods that have been exposed to pesticides. Since most hydroponic farms are indoors, keeping pests away is easier and does not require chemicals. Hydroponic farming has a very small impact on the environment compared to traditional farming.

 The amount of dirt needed for growing fruit and vegetable plants is huge, and it would be too heavy for a large garden on a rooftop, for example. Since hydroponic farms do not need dirt for growing fruits and vegetables, they can be located just about anywhere. While most farms are in rural areas, hydroponic farms can be in cities. Many abandoned buildings in cities are being converted into hydroponic farms. Did you know that there is a hydroponic farm in O’Hare Airport in Chicago? Next time you are there, checkout the indoor green gardens as you wait for your plane!

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